From crisp to cold...
The past couple of days when I've left the house, it is chilly; I think each time, I need a scarf.
A brief hospital visit, the doctor is late, I don't need the x-ray any time soon so I take the request for it with me and walk quickly out and grab the next bus.
I get back to the café next to my office just half an hour before my lecture, breakfast-less – I ask for speed but the cook forgets and lets my panini burn, and the contrite woman behind the counter throws together a tuna sandwich and most of what I had paid, and hands it to me as I rush to the lecture theatre.
(Why isn't it a panino, I always wonder. Is it perhaps because there are two pieces of bread.)
"Now was the time for the traces of habitation to disappear, and, as far as possible, for the island to return to its original condition. The exhausted flower beds were covered with banks of seaweed. The long rains did their levelling and rinsing."
As the students are filing in, I take a few bites of my portable brunch.
Barthes: the lecture seems okay, but the students are sleepy – are they still recovering from the time change? It's all right, it's good enough – at one point I lie on the floor to show them the end of Mark Morris' Mythologies, they wake up enough to laugh – at the end they roll groggily out, as though they are headed straight for bed.
I walk down through the university, buy some of the new line of sturdy soups at M&S, and get on the bus. I sit next to an elderly lady, we talk about travel and weather – she tells me she is 81, I say I'm nearly sixty, she says, predictably, oh that's nothing, with a laugh. I say good-bye to her as I get off the bus, come home –
but behind everything I'm doing is already a kind of cozy retreat-and-relaxation: even running around I'm already in a late fall / early winter mood, stocking the pantry and closing curtains.
"It’s a time for protecting and securing things and for making sure you’ve got in as many supplies as you can. It’s nice to gather together everything you possess as close to you as possible, to store up your warmth and your thoughts and burrow yourself into a deep hole inside, a core of safety where you can defend what is important and precious and your very own."
I haven't brought in the rosemary and oregano and thyme from the back patio– but I must admit there's plenty in the freezer, both dry and in olive oil. I make some nettle tea, on R.'s orders.
I hear firecrackers outside – and check the calendar: yes, tomorrow is Guy Fawkes Day. People tend to mess about with fireworks from a couple of days before Halloween. Seeing whether the matches really work, I suppose...
A casual mention of a short story on Facebook led to buying a cheap copy of an old paperback, which came today – exactly my kind of thing, though I don't remember ever reading it: Bradbury edited a collection of Timeless Stories in the early 1950s that was then reprinted for decades. After a brief encounter with television proves uninteresting, I turn it off and, in the dim light of the living room, read the first stories...
"He put away the nets. He stacked wood against the wall by the stove for next spring, and for anyone who might be shipwrecked on the island, and he tied down the woodshed with ropes because it stood so near the high-water mark."
There is a little bit of time travel in all of this: though most of these stories aren't familiar, the tone is – and so is the cover: this is a 1970 edition with artwork in a style that is familiar to me. That is also when Ballantine Books began to splurge on Lin Carter's idea of bringing back fantasy classics – so many of them are on my shelves, so many of them are so important to me.
In fact, there is a library-rescued Complete Storisende Edition of Cabell piled up, in order of course, next to my fireplace...
"The gales began to howl around our lonely island and the weather was cold. All of us now lived in my house where there was naturally a good porcelain stove and where we intended to sleep through the winter."
I wake up to the doorbell: a late night delivery of groceries, half an hour early because the driver wants to go home. When I open the door it is really cold, and I say so, though it is perhaps something he has already heard this evening: he is cheerfully energetic, a friendly Geordie lad who makes the usual jokes about it being 'fresh'. I tell him he wants to get home in this weather.
I have bought a bit too much food – solid and healthy, autumn fare for the most part. Except the mango, that's an indulgence. It's a bit of a fuss to put it all away, but I make room, packing away everything securely, preparing.
"It wasn’t raining at the moment but the forest was covered in mist and looked very beautiful, and it got thicker and thicker where the hills went down into Moominvalley, and little by little the pools became rivulets, more and more of them, and Toft walked between hundreds of streams and waterfalls, and all of them were going in the same direction as he was."
Seasons of mists...
I fall back into my book.